Goodbye Petrodollar, Hello Agri-Dollar? [Zerohedge]

When it comes to firmly established, currency-for-commodity, self reinforcing systems in the past century of human history, nothing comes close to the petrodollar: it is safe to say that few things have shaped the face of the modern world and defined the reserve currency as much as the $2.3 trillion/year energy exports denominated exclusively in US dollars (although recent confirmations of previously inconceivable exclusions such as Turkey’s oil-for-gold trade with Iran are increasingly putting the petrodollar status quo under the microscope). But that is the past, and with rapid changes in modern technology and extraction efficiency, leading to such offshoots are renewable and shale, the days of the petrodollar “as defined” may be over. So what new trade regime may be the dominant one for the next several decades? According to some, for now mostly overheard whispering in the hallways, the primary commodity imbalance that will shape the face of global trade in the coming years is not that of energy, but that of food, driven by constantly rising food prices due to a fragmented supply-side unable to catch up with increasing demand, one in which China will play a dominant role but not due to its commodity extraction and/or processing supremacy, but the contrary: due to its soaring deficit for agricultural products, and in which such legacy trade deficit culprits as the US will suddenly enjoy a huge advantage in both trade and geopolitical terms. Coming soon: the agri-dollar.

But first, some perspectives from Karim Bitar on CEO of Genus, on what is sure to be the biggest marginal player of the agri-dollar revolution, China, whose attempt to redefine itself as a consumption-driven superpower will fail epically and very violently, unless it is able to find a way to feed its massive, rising middle class in a cheap and efficient manner. But before that even, take note of the following chart which takes all you know about global trade surplus and deficit when narrowed down to what may soon be that all important agricultural (hence food) category, and flips it around on its head.

 

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Obama cements US support to Afghanistan beyond 2014 [RT]

On a secret trip to Afghanistan Barack Obama has signed an agreement pledging US financial and military support to the country for 10 years beyond the 2014 withdrawal. Despite its many failures the US is trying to portray its strategy as a success.

Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement, which states that Washington may use diplomatic means, political means, economic means and even military means” to help Afghanistan, with approval from Kabul.

Obama hailed the agreement as “historic” calling it a responsible transition with the Afghans taking control of their own country. The pact could help Washington smooth out its relations with Kabul following a number of incidents involving US soldiers, including the massacre of 17 civilians in Kandahar and the Koran-burning incident in Bagram.

A section of the pact signed on Tuesday implies that the US will not use Afghanistan as a launchpad for attacks on other countries in the region, such as drone strikes or any attack similar to the one that killed Osama Bin Laden exactly one year ago.

With the US presidential elections nearing, Obama addressed the nation from a military base in Bagram, during which he showcased his military achievements and promised a renewal for America.

As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America,” he said in the address. The president promised not to keep Americans in harm’s way “a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security” but underlined that “we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan and end this war responsibly. This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.”

Though admitting that the war has taken “longer than most anticipated” Obama said: “Our goal is to destroy Al-Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that.”

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India not Caving to the U.S. on Iran [alphavn]

Unlike Turkey and Japan, who have played ball just enough to still be able to buy Iranian oil but avoid U.S. sanctions, India is pretty much moving ahead unilaterally, and publicly, flouting the American’s desire to isolate Iran.

Clearing the way for oil refiners to pay Iran in Indian rupee, the Union Budget has exempted the payments made for crude oil purchased from the Persian Gulf nation, from any local tax.

Iran had in January agreed to accept 45 percent of the value of its oil exports to India in Indian rupees but the scheme could not be implemented due to taxation issues.
It was feared that the money paid to National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) may be considered as income generated by Iranian firm in the country and liable to be taxed. The withholding tax was up to 40 percent, which neither NIOC nor the Indian refiners wanted to pay.

Turkey continues to play both sides in this moving billions of dollars for the Indians to Iran as an intermediary.  For how long though, apparently is up to the U.S. State Department as Turkey has made it clear that once the pressure gets too high, they will cut India off.

Talks between the U.S. and India began on Monday with this issue front and center in the negotiations.  Given the current climate after the BRICS Summit and this latest move to allow refiners the tax exemption its pretty obvious that India’s stance is quite resolute, a stance the Americans do not generally tolerate from their allies.

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The Petro Dollar Discussion [must watch]

 

 

Saudi Arabia And China Team Up To Build A Gigantic New Oil Refinery – Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Petrodollar?

From The Economic Collapse

Saudi Arabia And China Team Up To Build A Gigantic New Oil Refinery - Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Petrodollar?

The largest oil exporter in the Middle East has teamed up with the second largest consumer of oil in the world (China) to build a gigantic new oil refinery and the mainstream media in the United States has barely even noticed it.  This mammoth new refinery is scheduled to be fully operational in the Red Sea port city of Yanbu by 2014.  Over the past several years, China has sought to aggressively expand trade with Saudi Arabia, and China now actually imports more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States does.  In February, China imported1.39 million barrels of oil per day from Saudi Arabia.  That was 39 percent higher than last February.  So why is this important?  Well, back in 1973 the United States and Saudi Arabia agreed that all oil sold by Saudi Arabia would be denominated in U.S. dollars.  This petrodollar system was adopted by almost the entire world and it has had great benefits for the U.S. economy.  But if China becomes Saudi Arabia’s most important trading partner, then why should Saudi Arabia continue to only sell oil in U.S. dollars?  And if the petrodollar system collapses, what is that going to mean for the U.S. economy?

Those are very important questions, and they will be addressed later on in this article.  First of all, let’s take a closer look at the agreement reached between Saudi Arabia and China recently.

The following is how the deal was described in a recent China Daily article….

In what Riyadh calls “the largest expansion by any oil company in the world”, Sinopec’s deal on Saturday with Saudi oil giant Aramco will allow a major oil refinery to become operational in the Red Sea port of Yanbu by 2014.

The $8.5 billion joint venture, which covers an area of about 5.2 million square meters, is already under construction. It will process 400,000 barrels of heavy crude oil per day. Aramco will hold a 62.5 percent stake in the plant while Sinopec will own the remaining 37.5 percent.

At a time when the U.S. is actually losing refining capacity, this is a stunning development.

Yet the U.S. press has been largely silent about this.

Very curious.

But China is not just doing deals with Saudi Arabia.  China has also been striking deals with several other important oil producing nations.  The following comes from a recent article by Gregg Laskoski….

China’s investment in oil infrastructure and refining capacity is unparalleled. And more importantly, it executes a consistent strategy of developing world-class refining facilities in partnership with OPEC suppliers. Such relationships mean economic leverage that could soon subordinate U.S. relations with the same countries.

Egypt is building its largest refinery ever with investment from China.

Shortly after the partnership with Egypt was announced, China signed a $23 billion agreement with Nigeria to construct three gasoline refineries and a fuel complex in Nigeria.

Essentially, China is running circles around the United States when it comes to locking up strategic oil supplies worldwide.

And all of these developments could have tremendous implications for the future of the petrodollar system.

If you are not familiar with the petrodollar system, it really is not that complicated.  Basically, almost all of the oil in the world is traded in U.S. dollars.  The origin of the petrodollar system was detailed in a recent article by Jerry Robinson….

In 1973, a deal was struck between Saudi Arabia and the United States in which every barrel of oil purchased from the Saudis would be denominated in U.S. dollars. Under this new arrangement, any country that sought to purchase oil from Saudi Arabia would be required to first exchange their own national currency for U.S. dollars. In exchange for Saudi Arabia’s willingness to denominate their oil sales exclusively in U.S. dollars, the United States offered weapons and protection of their oil fields from neighboring nations, including Israel.

By 1975, all of the OPEC nations had agreed to price their own oil supplies exclusively in U.S. dollars in exchange for weapons and military protection. 

This petrodollar system, or more simply known as an “oil for dollars” system, created an immediate artificial demand for U.S. dollars around the globe. And of course, as global oil demand increased, so did the demand for U.S. dollars.

Once you understand the petrodollar system, it becomes much easier to understand why our politicians treat Saudi leaders with kid gloves.  The U.S. government does not want to see anything happen that would jeopardize the status quo.

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